The August 2021 edition of Dumfries & Galloway Life magazine has an article about the Borgue Field Names project.
There will be an exhibition of the Borgue Field Names project at the Mill on the Fleet in Gatehouse from mid-June until the end of July. Many thanks to Ken Smyth from Mill on the Fleet for providing the space and preparing the excellent presentation materials. Click on the image below for more information.
New web pages have been added to the site with photographs and descriptions of some of the more interesting field names in the Borgue area. Fields such as Cuddle Cosy, Hac Noose and Doon Yeard are described. You can see them by navigation to PLACE->Borgue Field Names then selecting the menu items for each field.
The locations of Curling Ponds in Galloway have been added to the Galloway Place Names map. To show the ponds on the map, load the map by clicking on the image above then choose: Features->Curling Ponds from the menu at the top of the map. You can click on the curling pond symbols to get more information about each pond. Most of these are no longer used for curling but it shows how popular curling was in the past, with each village having its own pond or loch that was used for the sport. I’m sure that there are many more of these so please send in any information on curling pond locations using the form below.
A new map has been added to the site showing all of the place names collected in the Galloway Glens Place Names project.
An interactive map showing Borgue field names and other local information is now online. Click on the image above to see the map. The map displays all of the fields in the Borgue area along with an analysis of the origins of the field names. Other information can also be viewed on the map, including points of interest and data from other historical maps and sources.
Thanks to Donald Tait for sending some images of an article in Country Life magazine from 1919. It describes James Brown’s herd of prize Belted Galloways and has some interesting photographs of the cattle and some of the local buildings. Click on the image below to see the article.
The following is a letter from Ken Wilkinson who has been visiting Borgue for more than 70 years.
Following our recent visit to Borgue and your interest in its history, I’ll try to set down some of my memories of holidays we spent there in the years shortly after the war.
From 1947 till 1952 I would travel each June, with my parents and another family and an assortment of bikes, from industrial Nelson in Lancashire, by train — changing at Skipton (and sometimes at Carlisle), Dumfries and Castle Douglas – to Kirkcudbright. A big adventure for a 9 year old after the wartime restrictions! Then we rode to Borgue where my dad had organised a week (or two) staying with the Misses Clarke (Annie & Esther) in their cottage — the first on the right. This he had discovered because they were ‘appointed’ by the CTC (Cyclists’ Touring Club); they had the round CTC plaque fixed above the cottage door — no traces of it left now.
In those days of serious post-war food rationing Borgue was a revelation. The hard- working sisters kept hens, they had a cow, they had bee hives and they grew food! A land of milk and honey! We would eat three good meals each day and all, as far as I can recollect, for three pound ten shillings a week per person. For me the new things at that time were the various types of scones (including treacle scones) and pancakes, the honey directly from the comb and the home-made junket.
There were downsides, which sometimes added to the adventure. No running water made life interesting. There was a big water pump in the yard (l remember having a rather public ‘shower’ under it one time, and only once). Each morning a jug of hot water was brought to the room for washing in a bowl. At the bottom of the garden was the toilet hut with a smelly cess-pit behind it.
The village is still very recognisable with the most obvious changes on the right up the hill. The garage has gone, of course, and the football ground higher up the hill (just a field, really, and not very flat). From the road Annie & Esther’s cottage looks much the same as it did then, but has probably grown at the back. The roads then were very quiet — only the occasional bus, a 26 seater Bedford, from Kirkcudbright (the stop was outside the cottage), and few cars. The open space at the road junction was great for us kids to practice our cycling skills.
Brighouse Bay was a major attraction and we always had it to ourselves, apart from a few Belties. It was so quiet that you had to be careful not to stand on the nests of Oystercatchers and Ringed Plovers perfectly camouflaged amongst the pebbles, though the adult birds tried to distract you if you were too near. As young lads we seemed to spend much of our holiday fruitlessly building dams of sand across the stream only to have them collapse when the pool became too big.
Then down to Carrick where we could also scramble up the rocks. One time my father organised running races on the beach there — he was winning until he pulled a leg muscle. When he explained to the doctor down in Kirkcudbright what had happened he was told, without much sympathy, ‘you should be your age!’ He would have been in his late forties then.
Often in the evenings we would walk from the village either up the hill or along the Gatehouse road. In those days there were lots of flowers in the grass verges which are probably absent now — I particularly remember lots of both Spotted and Butterfly Orchids as well as Viper’s Bugloss etc. It would good to come back in June, rather than September, sometime and make a better comparison.
As an aside to my reminiscences, during lockdown we have developed an interest in moths and brought a light trap with us to Borgue which was pretty effective and caught 27 one evening in the garden (or rather the car park by the front door) — a good haul for so late in the year — mostly Lunar Underwings’ which we’d not encountered before, and 10 other species. Catching them is relatively easy; identifying them later is another story! June would be even more fruitful…
A unique map of old place and field names around Borgue is nearing completion. But the Borgue Field Name Project is still missing a few pieces of the jigsaw. Hundreds of descriptions have been logged so far by a team of local volunteers. Now they are keen to fill in the gaps before age-old descriptions are lost forever. The project, part of the Galloway and South Ayrshire Biosphere’s PLACE initiative, depends on tapping into local knowledge. And according to Borgue Community Council chairman John Shields, the public response has been excellent. He said: “A big part of this project is to ensure this stuff survives and is catalogued. Otherwise, it will all be lost as this generation disappears. It has simply been a matter of knocking on farmers’ doors. And not just farmers but ex-farmworkers as well. Adam Gray who has sadly passed away was a keen historian. A lot of information came from the Gray estate.”
Borgue and its parish lands boast a rich Gaelic, Scots and Viking heritage dating back centuries. The village name itself derives from the Old Norse ‘borg’ signifying a stronghold. It only had the ‘ue’ added in recent years for the sake of appearance.
Mr Shields said: “There’s a lot of secondary information in many of the names. For example, they can tell us how the land was used and about the people involved in working it. Many names are of Celtic, Gaelic or Norse origin while some are named after local farmers of old.”
Among the local names researched is Hac Noose, a big field next to the shore-side road between Brighouse Bay and Rockvale. Its meaning could derive from the Old English for a hook-shaped headland. Another theory contends that it is based on the Old Norse ‘hack’ – a fish-trap. Mr Shields said: “We have not got a final solution to that one yet.”
Imaging of Borgue from the sea and map-making have formed part of the project. The Lottery-funded scheme is being supported by Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere and the Southern Uplands Partnership. Biosphere communities in the Wigtownshire Moors and the Stinchar Valley are also taking part.